22 NOVEMBER 2003, Page 40

Crime underestimated

From Sam Jordison Sir: I was flattered by the inclusion of a review of my book Crap Towns (Books, 1 November).

I enjoyed reading Henry Hobhouse's opinions and was amused by his attempts to make out a case for the Right by linking Crap Town status to the presence of Labour councils.

I would argue, however, that there's sadly no such thing as a 'left' Labour council any more, and anyway most of the poverty and related problems in areas like Hull are directly attributable to Thatcher's 1980s and the decline of manufacturing (i.e., the Right).

If the book is at all political, it's a plea for social equality, justice and freedom from corruption. In other words, it's profoundly anti-Conservative and anti-Right (anti-New Labour too, for that matter).

I'd also like to take this opportunity to defend the statistics presented in the book. Mr Hobhouse says, 'Can one believe that there are 630,000 violent crimes in London?' I can, easily, and not just because I got the figures from a government source.

To put the huge-sounding '630,000' into perspective, consider that there are generally about 200,000 separate reported violent incidents in the area under the aegis of the City of London alone per annum. Add to that Brixton, Hackney, Clapham, Tottenham, Acton, Tower Hamlets, etc. and the total of 630,000 soon begins to feel surprisingly small.

Indeed, if the figure is inaccurate in any way, I'm sad to say that it's because it's a gross underestimate. It only takes account of 'reported incidents'. My own experience on local papers and as a resident of the crimeplagued borough of Hackney is that most violent crimes are not reported to the police and are therefore not recorded.

Crap, isn't it?

Sam Jordison

Minehead, Somerset